Overview

Most workers in Australia can choose which fund will receive their employer's super contributions, but without help they have no reliable means of comparing one fund with another. That is the purpose of our fund ratings. By applying our knowledge and experience of funds, we compare them in a way that is both fair and rigorous.

The result is a set of ratings that encapsulate our view about the quality of each fund we rate. We express those ratings in terms of Apples, reflecting our ‘apples with apples’ approach. Funds earn a rating ranging from 5 Apples, our highest grade, to 1 Apple, our lowest. 5 Apples is the Highest Quality Fund, 4 Apples is a High Quality Fund, 3 Apples is a Fair Quality Fund, 2 Apples is a Low Quality Fund and 1 Apple is the Lowest Quality Fund.

Our ratings are based on information that is either publicly available or is provided directly to us by the funds themselves. Where necessary, we modify that information to ensure fair comparisons. We give each fund the opportunity to review the information we use for its accuracy.

Main Criteria

When we rate super funds, we apply a methodology that was first developed in 1997 and has been continuously refined ever since. We focus on five main criteria: investments, member services, fees, insurance and organisational strengths.

We determine a score for each of the main criteria and then weight these to provide an overall rating for the fund. Chart 1 shows the main criteria we use and the weights we assign to them.

Chart1-Super-Methodology-(2).PNG

 

In the following sections, we look at each of the main criteria in turn, starting with the most important, and explain the sub-criteria we assess for each of them.

Investments

Investments are obviously important and account for 40% of our overall rating. When we rate a fund's investments, we do not focus on past returns. Rather, we focus on assessing the quality of the fund's investment governance, its in-house investment team, its external asset consultant (particularly for research), and the structure of its investment portfolios. If it does these things well, it is likely to have strong, long-term performance.

Most funds offer a range of investment options to choose from, but we concentrate our research mostly on the multi-manager options because that is where most members are invested. Chart 2 shows what we take into account. It is worth noting that past performance only accounts for 15% of the total score for investments (which equates to 6% of our overall fund evaluation).

 

Chart2-Investments-Super-Methodology-(1).PNG

Member Services

While investments carry the highest weighting in our ratings process, we believe member services are also vitally important. For that reason, they account for 30% of our overall weighting.

The best funds offer services that help their members to understand the purpose of super (which is to accumulate a nest egg that will provide them with a comfortable income in retirement), how they are tracking to achieve their retirement goals, and what they can do to ensure they meet those goals.

The main aspects that we focus on are education (retirement calculator, public website and secure website), communication materials (member statement, campaigns and newsletters) and financial advice services (scaled and full advice). Chart 3 shows those sub-criteria and the weightings we assign to them.

 

Chart3-Member-Services-Super-Methodology-(1).PNG

Fees

The fees that a member pays – either directly from their account or indirectly through their investments – have a bearing on how much money they end up with in retirement. However, a low fee fund is not necessarily the best. A fund may be cheap because its investments use a lot of passive management, or it may cut costs by providing little in the way of member services.

When we assess a fund on fees, we look not only at the fees and costs a member pays, directly or indirectly, but also on how clearly and completely the fund discloses those fees and costs, as shown in Chart 4.

 

Chart4-Fees-Super-Methodology-(1).PNG

Insurance

Insurance is an important benefit, but it is also a cost that a member pays, so they want to be comfortable that it represents good value. The best funds provide cover that is affordable, flexible, relevant to the demographics of their membership, and requires the minimum of paperwork and medical evidence.

The main aspects we focus on are the premiums, the conditions that apply before benefits are paid, the amount of cover available without medical evidence and the range and relevance of the benefits provided. These are shown in Chart 5.

 

Chart5-Insurance-Super-Methodology.PNG

Organisation

Australian super funds are highly regulated and they are not geared, so the chance of failure is quite remote. Nevertheless, it is important to know that the organisation behind the fund has the capacity to sustain and improve it now and into the future.

When we assess a fund on organisation, we look at who owns or controls it, the strength of its management team and its strategy for the future, as shown in Chart 6.

 

Chart6-Organisation-Super-Methodology.PNG


 

© Chant West Pty Limited (ABN 75 077 595 316) 2018. Unless otherwise permitted by an agreement between you and Chant West, you may only use the information on this website (the "Information") for your own personal, non-commercial use, and such Information may not be copied, reproduced, scanned or embodied in any other document or distributed to another party. This website is only intended for use by Australian residents.

Any ratings, nominations for awards, or awards, are subjectively determined by Chant West. Those ratings, nominations and awards, as well as parts of the Information, have been prepared based on data (including historical financial performance information) supplied by third parties. While such data is believed to be accurate, Chant West does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.  Chant West’s liability is limited as described in the Terms of Use.

The Information is not intended to constitute financial product advice. However to the extent the Information may be considered to be general financial product advice, Chant West warns that: (a) Chant West has not considered any individual person's objectives, financial situation or particular needs; (b) individuals need to consider whether the advice is appropriate in light of their goals, objectives and current situation; and (c) individuals should obtain a product disclosure statement from the relevant fund provider before making any decision about whether to acquire a financial product from that fund provider.  It is important that you read a copy of our Financial Services Guide.

Top